Buyer beware: Forsberg an accident waiting to happen

Cam Cole
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NHL/COLUMN

Items that may someday grow up to be columns, Vol. XI, Chapter 1: There are countless holes in the popular theory that the Vancouver Canucks, among others would be wise to aggressively pursue free agent Peter Forsberg, but here is one that stands out: Forsberg has Doug Gilmour written all over him.

You remember when the Maple Leafs brought Ol' 93 back from hell - or Montreal, which Leafs fans consider the same thing - in March 2003, and he lasted exactly four minutes before an innocent-looking collision with Calgary's Dave Lowry put him out for good? Forsberg isn't that old, but he's every bit that creaky, and emptying the wallet for a guy who's apt to catch the first available rut and go down in a heap is an exceptionally low-percentage move. Memory is a dangerous thing, and there's a very good chance that a memory of how Forsberg used to play, when he was healthy (whenever that was), is what NHL teams are actually bidding on.

Cam Cole suggests that Peter Forsberg (shown above) might be the 2008 version of a 2003 Doug Gilmour. Associated Press file photo

Vancouver - Items that may someday grow up to be columns, Vol. XI, Chapter 1: There are countless holes in the popular theory that the Vancouver Canucks, among others would be wise to aggressively pursue free agent Peter Forsberg, but here is one that stands out: Forsberg has Doug Gilmour written all over him.

You remember when the Maple Leafs brought Ol' 93 back from hell - or Montreal, which Leafs fans consider the same thing - in March 2003, and he lasted exactly four minutes before an innocent-looking collision with Calgary's Dave Lowry put him out for good? Forsberg isn't that old, but he's every bit that creaky, and emptying the wallet for a guy who's apt to catch the first available rut and go down in a heap is an exceptionally low-percentage move. Memory is a dangerous thing, and there's a very good chance that a memory of how Forsberg used to play, when he was healthy (whenever that was), is what NHL teams are actually bidding on.

Let's all take a deep breath now, and vow not to be crushed when Roger Clemens walks off Capitol Hill today, exonerated of using performance-enhancing drugs, and trailed by a posse of fawning politicians, all seeking the Rocket's autograph for their grandchildren.

That's where this is headed, you know: the enormous publicity machine and legal team surrounding the greatest pitcher of his time will have done its work, throwing enough filth - Johnnie Cochran-like - at star witness Brian McNamee to convince the committee that because he's not a nice person, he must be lying about all those times he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. And the physical evidence sounds, frankly, a little flimsy. They'll find a way to discredit that, as surely as O.J.'s blood-stained glove was tossed.

Everyone deserves a second chance, so it's nice to see Rick Tocchet - whose job head coach Wayne Gretzky held open for two years - back with the Phoenix Coyotes. Of course, he'd have been back three months ago, except the NHL's investigation into his conduct before and after his implication in the Operation Slapshot gambling ring revealed he had broken (dozens of times) NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's specific order not to be in contact with NHL personnel during his suspension.

Oh, and there was that little matter of playing in the World Series of Poker last summer while suspended and on probation, and forbidden from gambling. He might as well have taken out an ad on national TV announcing: "I can't help myself!" Tocchet actually survived the first day and qualified to return, but someone must have got to him and told him to give his head a shake. He didn't turn up for Day 2 of WSOP.

Was it only a couple of weeks ago that the Toronto and national media were pillorying Leafs general manager John Ferguson, mocking his incompetence, holding a death watch on his tenure, pointing out all the ways he had failed his franchise? Now that he's unemployed, TSN has waved its magic wand and made him an expert. Ferguson will join another ex-GM the network used to make liberal fun of, Mad Mike Milbury, on the TSN TradeCentre '08 desk, Feb. 26. Bob Pulford must have already been spoken for.

I know it's politically incorrect to step on a man's right to self-expression, and it's important for everyone of us to be ourselves, and it's undignified to bow to The Man ... but, honestly, how much of an effort would it be for Ottawa Senators goalie Ray Emery to ditch the Pimpmobile he's driving and slip into something a little less obvious? If he's so concerned about being targeted by police just because he's driving a white Hummer that practically cries out "More Money Than Brains," how about a nice, charcoal BMW or a discreet black Mercedes? Then try showing up for practice on time, staying out of road-rage incidents with the common people, and just generally growing up. You're 25, Ray, not 18. And by the way, if Jason Spezza is defending your behaviour, you shouldn't take that as the clinching argument on your maturity.

Organizations: NHL, Vancouver Canucks, Maple Leafs World Series of Poker Phoenix Coyotes The Man Ottawa Senators BMW

Geographic location: Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary Capitol Hill Toronto

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